60E. How Do You Build a Castle?


After visiting so many castles and palaces you find yourself asking, “How did they build this?” In the United States our oldest buildings are a little over 200 years. We are amazed if anyone lives in a house over 100 years old. Here grand homes are over 500 years old. It seems that everyone should have been living in hovels 500 years ago, but no, they had great big multi-story homes with cool things called ‘keeps’ and ‘murder holes’.

Guedelon (3)
In the 90’s a group of French men asked themselves the question, “How do you build a castle?” And then they decided to do it. For the past 15 years there Guedelon castle has been in the making. The builders are trying to stay as authentic to the 13th century designs and materials as possible. The expectation is that it will be complete in the year 2025. The castle is being built with materials on site and with tools and machinery that is true to 13th century design. This includes treadmill winches [corrected from the previous spelling of ‘wenches’ which gave it an entirely different meaning] which are essentially hamster-wheels for humans that function as cranes.

The site is the castle under construction as well as numerous outbuildings with the different craftsman – ropemaker, carpenters, blacksmith, stone masons. It was much like Conner Prairie with a single purpose. Unfortunately the site was not attuned to an English speaking family. We were competing with multiple school groups – we found ourselves eavesdropping on whatever spiel was being given by the artisan to the school group. It was all in French so we could really only appreciate the demonstration portions. There was one carpenter who said to us, “I speak English if you have any questions”. We certainly impressed her with our insightful query of, “What are you making?”

The building process is a study in itself – archeologists aren’t altogether sure how things were done so they study other castles and try out different methods until they think they got it right. They built 3 different kilns before they figured out which made the roof tiles the correct way. This would be a really fun place to visit year after year to see the progress. The site has been so successful that it is self sustaining and there are plans to build a village once the Castle is complete. Maybe we can swing by and see the finished Castle when we come check out the completed Sagradia Familia in 2026.

Guedelon (5)
Our decision to stay in the Loire Valley is directly attributed to my friend Martin, the owner of the house where we stayed. Martin and I met at Camp Tecumseh over 20 years ago! This getaway is a remote hamlet in a charming town away from the hustle and bustle of cities. It was a much needed time of relaxation for us. The only downside is that we were not able to meet up with Martin and his family but we are ever so grateful for his generosity and friendship.


SUPPLEMENTAL – Added  10 April 2014

In response to Dad’s comment regarding the Masons and Jacques Demolay, we searched out his memorial in Paris today.  Voila!


…between the doors leading to this nice little Parisian Park…




…just above eye level…



… the plaque reads “At this location, Jacques de Molay, last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, was burned on 18 March 1314”





8 responses to “60E. How Do You Build a Castle?

  1. Hey, you need to consult with a Knight Templar, who helped build that type castle in the 1100 to 1300 AD period. Oh, I forgot, they were chased out of France in 1313, when they were getting to powerful, according to the Pope and King.  Maybe you will see the place where Jacque DeMolay, the Grand Master of the Knights Templar was burned at the stake. Those not caught scattered to Ireland and England.  They took many of their secrets, scrolls, etc. Now only if they could be found. These stone hewers are all over the Masonic degrees your old man has seen portrayed many time. Interesting “stuff”.


  2. Believe me Dad, I was all about getting the Masons involved in this castle project. If only they would build a castle in Indiana, you would have a great service project. I’ll keep my eyes open for secret scrolls!

  3. With regard to Brenna’s always most excellent blog: Devastated to hear that after sacrificing her second semester of her sophomore year to be with her family Brenna has now lost out on her junior year because Arden locked herself in her room with the only electronical device capable of communications with PURDUE CLASS SCHEDULING. Now Brenna will be stuck with some early morning major like ethnic-transgendered-communism or something even more obscure —math and statistics!

  4. Pingback: 63E. Paris | Friend Family Adventure·

  5. Pingback: 63E. Paris | Friend Family Adventure·

  6. Pingback: Where Did We Go? | Friend Family Adventure·

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